Forest Forge Theatre is one company that has had to face the reality of adapting to survive during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The nearly 40-year-old professional theatre company that delivers participations classes, creates productions of their own, delivers theatre to communities, and hosts visiting shows at their studio based in Ringwood, closed it’s doors to the public in March this year due to government restrictions.
Since then the theatre, which is a charity, has lost its main source of revenue and cannot deliver their work as they once did, with a continued uncertainty as to when they can open their doors once again.
Despite facing huge challenges and barriers, the team behind the scenes has decided they are yet to be beaten! They decided if the public can’t come to them, they will go to the public with the help of their new online offering.
Since lockdown commenced the team have held weekly virtual meetings and continued to support their participation groups and Associate Artists with ongoing zoom meetings and social media activities.
Recently Forest Forge created and ran a six-week online theatre course called ‘See it, Be it, Write it’ that was available to all to take part in online. With three ‘pay what you can’ price options, the course was made as accessible as possible to all those wishing to get creative in their homes.
The course was greatly received, with one participant saying, "I particularly liked the improv tasks, I thought this was rather challenging but the tips given were great and I really enjoyed it. I also thoroughly enjoyed script writing and acting out a scene at home."
The theatre are now offering the six-week course in full to download in one, easy to manage pack, allowing participants to work their way through the course at their own pace, still with the same accessible pricing structure.
That’s not all, Forest Forge is now also offering a series of Artist Talks led by established artists and theatre professionals. Held on Zoom the talks will allow for Q&A’s with the artists and are completely free to join. The first talk takes place Tuesday 7th July from 6-7pm with designer, director, and writer, David Haworth in the hot seat.
The adaption to an online offering has been an essential part of ensuring the theatre can re-open when the time is right. The charity is also relying on kind donations and funding where possible to ensure it’s long-life may continue.
Forest Forge Theatre’s CEO/Creative Producture, Sharon Lawless said, “Forest Forge Theatre has seen many challenges over the years, but this by far is one of our biggest. Our ethos of bringing theatre to communities and making our services accessible to all has been tested, but I have to say, I couldn't be prouder of how the Forest Forge team has responded and adapted.
Our building may be temporarily closed, but we have created online courses, run virtual participation groups and workshops, and continue to support our outreach workers and Associate Artists through this difficult time.”
For more of what’s on offer ‘virtually’ at Forest Forge Theatre, visit their website www.forestforgetheatre.co.uk.